Steering & Suspension

Don't Neglect The Most Important
Parts of Your Vehicle! -

Your car’s steering and suspension take more knocks and abuse than almost any other aspect of your car. With every pothole, speedbump, or skid against the curb, tons of force are applied to these components. There are numerous different designs to a vehicle's steering and suspension; consult your owner's manual to see which you have. Here are several common brake steering and suspension problems, the steps that mechanics usually take to repair them, and the possible effects of ignoring the problem.

If you car has power steering (as almost all recent models do), and it becomes progressively more difficult to turn the steering wheel, it may be a sign of a low fluid level in the power steering fluid reservoir. This reservoir, under the hood, usually has minimum and maximum indicators. For a mechanic, the solution is typically to replenish the reservoir. If the fluid keeps dropping, it's probably a sign of a leak somewhere in the system. Remember, power steering is hydraulically actuated, and sufficient fluid is essential to proper function.

If your car tends to drift to either side when you take your hands on the wheel, your tires may be unevenly worn or unevenly inflated. Additionally, your wheels may be out of alignment. Your mechanic uses an electronically calibrated machine to adjust the alignment of your wheels. To ignore this would lead to accelerated wear on your tires, which can itself exacerbate the tendency of your car to drift or "lean" to one side to another. Make sure your wheels are properly aligned, that your tires are evenly (and correctly) inflated, and that you rotate your tires at the recommended interval.

Another common problem, especially with older or neglected vehicles, is a screeching noise when you turn the steering wheel to the extreme right or left. The most common cause here is simply that the power steering belt is loose or worn. This is the belt that transmits the power of the engine to the accessory power steering pump, and it stretches naturally with age. Your mechanic will make sure the belt is kept at the proper tension. Sometimes it can also crack, fray, or become slick and shiny from wear -- in this case your mechanic will usually replace it. Newer vehicles often connect all engine accessories to the engine with a single, long, "serpentine" belt, which can be more difficult to replace. The consequence of ignoring this problem is simple and catastrophic: the belt breaks, rendering the vehicle inoperable.

As with all automotive maintenance and repair, it’s easier to address an issue before it becomes a problem. With your steering and suspension, make a point of including your fluid levels, tires, and power steering belt in your regular weekly check. It takes only seconds and can save you time and money later on!

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